Many NCAA athletes’ dreams is to go pro in their sport. After all, the professional ranks are where the money is, where the glory is, not to mention, where all the fun is too.
For many of the more than 400,000 collegiate athletes across universities nationwide, college is the finish line.
So what happens to those athletes who don’t quite make the cut, ones that aren’t good enough to play in the National Football League (NFL), the Association of Volleyball Professionals (AVP) or Major League Baseball (MLB)?
They’re ones that you don’t hear about on TV making plays in the biggest games. But, after all, they did receive a diploma and an education that prepared them for more traditional competition — the American workforce.
Former Mustang men’s soccer defender Patrick Sigler recently received his diploma as a graduate of Cal Poly’s Wine and Viticulture program and he plans to use his off-field talents to someday become his own wine maker.
The former four-time All-Big West selection as a starter on the Mustang’s back line was denied a roster spot on a Major League Soccer (MLS) team following last year’s MLS combine, but the recent graduate isn’t down on his prospects of making a career out of making wine if soccer doesn’t come around in the future.
“It was my dream to be a (professional) soccer player since I was a little kid,” Sigler said. “It got shot down a little bit after not getting drafted out of the MLS combine, but I’m really happy with what I’m doing right now at the winery.”
Sigler recently received a full-time job offer at Talley Vineyards in nearby Arroyo Grande and will be a key part in the Vineyards’ wine production process. Nevertheless, he hasn’t forgotten about his time as a Cal Poly student-athlete and what it meant for his future career.
“It taught me to be responsible, it taught me how to follow a schedule,” Sigler said. “Being a student-athlete there is a lot of hardships and it prepares you for the hardships in life like a job. I think I grew up a little bit faster (because of it).”
Another recent graduate and former Cal Poly student-athlete who hasn’t forgotten about his time on the Central Coast is Matt Titchenal. The former men’s basketball guard graduated last fall with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, an impressive feat made extraordinary by his 3.89 cumulative GPA.
With his 14-time Dean’s List accolades, he earned Cal Poly Male Scholar Athlete of the Year and All-Academic billing from the Big West Conference on top of numerous other awards throughout his four-year career at Cal Poly.
Titchenal was accepted to pursue graduate studies at Stanford University this fall and is currently studying to become a university professor in the biomechanics field.
According to him, the tightly regimented schedule of playing NCAA basketball helped make the transition to graduate school.
“Because I played basketball as an undergrad, it made the transition to a master’s program (at Stanford) much easier,” Titchenal said.
From the same college, but different generation, is biomedical engineering assistant professor Trevor Cardinal.
Cardinal, a former member of Cal Poly’s swimming and diving team and a 2003 graduate of the university, is now pursuing his dream of becoming a professor of physiology at the school that gave rise to his love of both sport and academia.
“I knew pretty early on that I could be competitive in the Big West Conference, but professional and Olympic swimming was definitely not in the cards,” Cardinal said. “It was all about getting the opportunity to swim in college and then do whatever I needed to do from there. I realized very early on, freshman year in fact, that I wanted to teach physiology.”
After Cardinal went on to earn a doctorate degree in physiological sciences at the University of Arizona, he came back to Cal Poly where he still teaches today.
But while swimming is in the rear-view mirror, he makes sure to support the Mustangs in every way possible. In fact, you’ll see the former standout distance swimmer wearing green every Thursday.
“Even though Cal Poly is more of an academic institution, and even though I did very well academically, athletics was still my chief interest,” Cardinal said.